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Maxwell title run stopped by Bulldogs
After three quarters of butting heads in the paint, the Butte Valley girls basketball team kicked the ball to the outside and halted Maxwell High's playoff run 42-38 in the semifinals Wednesday in Maxwell.
The Bulldogs advanced to the Division VI championship game for the fourth time in five years and Maxwell fell just shy of their first appearance in the title game since winning it all in 2007.
"The neat thing was the girls were happy after the game. They were happy from the standpoint they left everything out on the court and they didn't lose, the other team won," Maxwell coach Leo LaGrande said.
Kaily McKinley excelled under pressure against a team loaded with strong post players, scoring 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but the Bulldogs shifted tactics late and made three 3-pointers in a span of less than three minutes, turning a five-point deficit into a 37-33 lead.
Butte Valley center Haley Reynolds scored 14 of her 16 points in the first three quarters and drew the Panther defense in before Bulldogs coach Mike Cross switched things up.
"I told them we've got to shoot some outside shots, they're collapsing on us and we've got to gamble on it. Then we made some 3's and we got momentum and then it was like we got fresh legs," Cross said.
Lydia Hill hit the first 3-pointer, her first points of the game, with 7:00 remaining, and freshman Kenzie Hayden-Criss made up for three quarters of struggles by putting the Bulldogs up for the first time since the start of the second quarter.
Maxwell's defense held for two minutes before Paige Porterfield drilled her first 3-pointer.
"We were caught off on the 3-pointers and as soon as we made that adjustment, they went back to (Reynolds) for a quick basket. We had to give up one or the other," LaGrande said.
The Panthers kept pace the rest of the way but couldn't close the gap.
Senior guard Ashley Azevedo, Maxwell's only senior starter, was a big reason why McKinley had such a good game. Azevedo drew out the defense and fed the ball into McKinley and Jenna Powell in the post.
Azevedo finished with four points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
"She has an eye for the court that you can't teach anyone. She's been a floor leader from the start and she sees the whole court and can make passes that it's like 'where did that come from?' We just found out today Ashley made the Lions All-Star game," LaGrande said.
Maxwell earned the top seed in D6 and compiled a 16-6 record and won the Mid-Valley League title despite being the only D6 school.
Despite having just one other senior on the roster, Jessica Parra, their success wasn't a surprise to Azevedo and the reason is clear to her.
"We just get along. It's been like that forever, we've played together our whole lives," she said.
McKinley returns next season along with Powell, who scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds, Jessie Otterson, who scored seven points and blocked a shot, and Shelen Boyes, who scored five points and swiped three steals.
No. 4 Butte Valley (14-7, 8-2 Evergreen League co-champions) advanced to the championship game on Friday at Chico State, where they played No. 2 Hayfork, which edged Redding Christian 43-41.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.